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‘Face coverings’ Mandatory on Public Transport From Monday as Lockdown Eases

Published on: 13 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 14 Jun, 2020

Rules requiring passengers on public transport to wear a face covering come into force across England from Monday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed.

People should continue to avoid public transport where possible, but by enforcing face coverings, the government wants passengers to help protect each other as numbers travelling gradually start to rise across the country, with easing of restrictions when safe to do so.

  • From Monday, June 15, everyone must wear a face covering when travelling by public transport in England;
  • Operators are authorised to prevent passengers who refuse to follow the rules from travelling and police can issue fines of £100; and
  • More than 3,000 extra staff will be deployed from Monday to support travellers, reminding people about the need to wear face coverings and helping vulnerable passengers

Face coverings are not the same as face masks. It is important that people do not use medical-grade PPE masks to ensure these remain available for frontline health staff. Last month, the government set out advice for people on how to make their own face coverings easily at home, using scarves or other textile items.

Hundreds of thousands of free face coverings will be handed out for passenger use at many locations across the rail network in England from Monday. The one-off initiative, which will run for several days at several stations, will support passengers and help them travel safely.

The extra staff from British Transport Police, Network Rail, train-operating companies and Transport for London will be deployed at key transport hubs and interchanges across England, managing congestion and providing dedicated reassurance, advice and friendly assistance to people as they follow social distancing guidance.

Passengers who refuse to follow the rules will be directed to leave services. Police and Transport for London authorised personnel can issue the fixed penalty notices of £100, or £50 if paid in 14 days. Exemptions for face coverings will apply only to those with certain health conditions, disabled people and children under the age of 11.

Mr Shapps said: “We’ve seen how the COVID-19 pandemic has unlocked a community spirit right across our nation, and we now need to extend this to our transport network so we can help keep one another safe.

“If you do need to travel, in the same way that you would pick up your phone, wallet or keys when you leave the house, please remember to bring a face covering.

“Our transport staff will be on hand to provide help and advice, and free coverings will be given out at key train stations to help kick-start this initiative. This is another small, sensible step we can all take to help us defeat this virus.”

The regulations, under the Public Health Act 1984, will make face coverings mandatory on buses, coaches, trams, ferries, aircraft and trains. In addition, some operators will amend their conditions of carriage, allowing them to enforce the requirement in a similar way to the rules on having a ticket for travel, meaning they can implement the changes in the way that works best for them.

The change from Monday will coincide with the easing of certain lockdown measures, including the reopening of non-essential retail stores. While social distancing and hand-washing remain by far the most important disease prevention measures, when necessary to use public transport, people may be more likely to be in enclosed spaces for longer periods where there is a greater risk of the spread of the virus and social distancing is likely to be difficult to follow consistently.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said using face coverings as a precautionary measure in this setting can provide some additional protection to fellow passengers and can help people to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus if they have it, but are not showing symptoms.

The government has been engaging with local authorities and operators ahead of Monday’s change. New guidance setting out further details of the changes for operators and passengers will be published before Monday.

There are several reasons (for example, health conditions) why someone may not be able to wear a face covering. The government has engaged with a range of disability charities, including those representing people with hearing loss, to minimise the impact of the new rules on some passengers.

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Responses to ‘Face coverings’ Mandatory on Public Transport From Monday as Lockdown Eases

  1. Alison Wilde Reply

    June 15, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    I was on the bus today and eight passengers did not have a face covering. It is not being enforced by the drivers and they were not wearing them either.

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